Arsenic in Rice Poses No Immediate Health Risk, FDA Says

Arsenic levels in rice and rice products aren’t high enough to pose a short-term public health risk, the U.S. government said.

Levels of inorganic arsenic in more than 1,300 samples tested were too low to cause immediate health damage, the Food and Drug Administration said on its website today. The analysis will be the crux of future study about the potential dangers of arsenic in rice and related products, the agency said.

Rice is particularly vulnerable to absorbing arsenic, a chemical element, because it’s grown in water. Rice and rice-based products such as cereal and baby foods were selected from retailers and analyzed. The study occurred after consumer advocacy groups raised concern that arsenic in rice threatened the health of consumers.

The FDA said it will continue its investigation, including looking into the potential for long-term health risks.

“These are the next steps,” Suzanne C. Fitzpatrick, the senior adviser for toxicology at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement. “To look at exposure levels, to analyze the risk, and determine how to minimize that risk for the overall safety of consumers, including vulnerable groups like children and pregnant women.”

Arsenic contamination can occur naturally from sources such as eroding rocks or volcanic eruptions. The chemical element can also be introduced into groundwater and soil by humans through mining and the use of pesticides.

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